Three Key Elements for Making Change Happen

Looking for a way of effecting change and getting people into action?  Here are three things that must be in place for it to happen…Focus, Commitment and Capability.  I learned this from Hubert Saint-Onge, a brilliant human being who presented it in such a simple way that I have never forgotten it.  Here it is:

Focus is about having a clear sense of destination…knowing the what, how, why and where of the change to take place

Commitment is about the attitudes, emotions, will and the degree to which there is a sense of ownership among people who are making the change

Capability is about the degree to which skills, knowledge, processes and resources are present

When these three elements converge then, and only then, can change happen. Here’s the impact if one or more are missing:

  • Focus & Commitment without Capability = Change that you WOULD make if you knew how
  • Commitment & Capability without Focus = Change you MAY make if you were clear about what it was.
  • Capability & Focus without Commitment = Change you COULD make if you were willing.

So, if you are preparing to make a change in your company or department and you want the folks to not only accept it but participate in it, check out where they are in terms of focus, commitment and capability.  That’ll give you a hint about where you should be placing your attention and activity as a change leader.

Something to think about: How prepared are you to make change happen?  What are you focused on?  How will you gain commitment from others? Are they well enough equipped to make change successfully?

And just for fun..Here’s Bob Dylan.  The Times They Are A-Changing. “You’d better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone” Check it out.



Filed under Leading Change

3 responses to “Three Key Elements for Making Change Happen

  1. Hi,

    Thought provoking post. Good points. How do you differentiate change from transformation? For example, my wife works in a beauty salon with 20 co-workers. The last “change” that took place was during the Roosevelt administration (Teddy). No process for delivering customer service, customer appreciation, marketing, selling etc.

    My wife has some great ideas in these areas, but has met the usual resistance. She understands that without earning the support of certain stakeholders, there’s no shot of executing her ideas.

    To me, my wife is trying to drive a transformation of the business, not merely change. Are the key elements cited in your post applicable to transformation? What additional elements do you need to successfully drive transformation?

  2. prissyperfection

    Hi Larry,

    To me, transformation and change are the same except that perhaps transformation suggests revolution rather than evolution.

    From the sounds of it, your wife’s beauty salon has not yet felt the need to change, which is surprising given your Teddy Roosevelt reference :).

    It must be very frustrating for her to have so many ideas only to be met with constant resistance. But the truth is that unless those she wants to influence can actually feel that something will be lost unless they make a change, the likelihood of their being receptive may continue to be small.

    In other words, the owners of the salon may have the capability to make change happen but lack both the focus and the will… or maybe just the courage.

    A great little book about change is called “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson MD. It is a great little parable. Your wife might find it useful.

    Thanks for coming by!

  3. Gwyn,

    Thanks for your thoughtful response. My wife is frustrated, especially since she is responsible for managing the salon. Unfortunately, the scope of her decision making lies in guessing what the owner will approve.

    I read “Who Moved my Cheese”. I can’t find my copy. I think my son moved my book. Nice book.

    Love your content.

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